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Velodyne SPL-800 Conclusion

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The SPL-800 served my two channel system well for a few months, that is, until I decided to upgrade the system and move it into my master bedroom. Now it was time to give the SPL-800 a real work out, in a room almost double the size, and determine if it was worthy of its reputable name. I recently upgraded my secondary audio system to a full fledged multi channel system, and convinced my wife that moving it into our master bedroom for the ultimate lazy movie viewing experience was a good idea. After all, how can you beat a good home theater system while resting in the comforts of your own bed?

In fact, we soon found ourselves viewing, or should I say listening, to more and more movies in bed then previously envisioned. Thanks to the small footprint sported by the SPL-800, it fit quite nicely behind my front right speaker next to the entrance of the room. I was a bit concerned at first that my placement choice did not directly couple the SPL-800 to a corner wall. After setting and calibrating all of the levels appropriately with my trusty Radio Shack SPL meter and Avia set-up disc, I began re-evaluating the SPL-800. This time I noticed the SPL-800 had a more challenging time to fill the larger room with low end bass. I had to really crank the subwoofer volume level this time and it seemed I did loose much of the lowest ½ octave of bass that was more prominent in my smaller room. The SPL-800 handled most of my DVD movies without appreciable lack of depth that

I was accustomed to with my larger and more expensive reference subwoofer in my living room. The opening scenes from Toy Story 2 where Buzz Lightyear rockets blasted towards an alien planet controlled by Zurg were quite satisfying. Watching the familiar scene in Air Force One where the refueling plan blew up as a result of the sparks when the fueling rod abruptly disconnected with Air Force One, weren't quit as thrilling as I was accustomed to. On my reference sub in my living room, I could almost feel the burning flames that destroyed the fueling craft. However, the SPL-800 reproduced this scene with conviction and unlike any other sub I have ever heard in its footprint.

At this point I found myself wishing I would have asked Velodyne for the SPL-1000 or 1200, but it wasn't really a fair to comparison. The SPL-800 was obviously better suited for space sensitive small to medium sized rooms located in close proximity to a corner wall. I was reaching the limits of its intended application and set-up, yet it still delivered quite nicely. When I set the crossover point up another 20Hz, it helped to provide a bit more slam that I demanded for movie viewing. However, I couldn't help to wonder if this is one of Velodyne's more compact subs, how would their behemoth active servo products perform? Perhaps that is something I will have to ask Velodyne in the future, and maybe they will take this subtle hint to send me one.

Overall I was quite pleased and surprised by the level of performance the little SPL-800 produced in my various set-ups. I was however more impressed with its abilities for home theater than for serious two channel audio, but felt it would serve both quit nicely for someone looking for a high performance compact sub to fill a small to medium sized listening room with quality low tones without breaking your bank account.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStarStar
About the author:
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Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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